World leader of rare earth based formulations, Solvay is developing numerous innovations used in daily applications (flat screens, energy-saving lamps, automotive exhaust treatment, high precision optical…).
Started in 2007, the project
required two years of Research & Development, followed by two years of industrialization, leading to the decision for investment in 2011.
Since Solvay had decided to start recycling energy-saving lamps
earlier, the lamp collection system was already in place. These lamps contain six rare earths (Lanthanum, Cerium, Terbium, Yttrium, Europium and Gadolinium), that Solvay now has the capacity to recycle while preserving 100% of their usage performance. End-of-life light bulbs and tubes are collected, sorted and treated by specialized recycling companies that valorize various components (glass, metal, plastic, mercury). The phosphorescent powders (containing the rare earths) are sent to the Solvay plants, first in Saint Fons
(France) to produce a first rare earth concentrate, then to La Rochelle
(France), which has unique expertise in rare earth purification. Once purified and separated, the rare earths are then formulated to new phosphor precursors that will be reused in the production of new lamps.